Rethinking sovereignty: The domestic politics of Europeanization in Europe's southeastern periphery

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Gavan Duffy


Sovereignty, Domestic politics, Europeanization, Croatia, Slovenia

Subject Categories

Eastern European Studies | International Relations | Political Science


Since the annus mirabalis of 1989, Central and East European states have undergone a process of Europeanization, an incremental processes through which European political, social and economic dynamics become part of the logic of national discourse, identities, political structures and public policies of these states. While Central and East European states have faced many of the same pressures and undergone many of the same changes throughout this process, these common pressures have been processed, mediated, and ultimately responded to differently in particular national contexts. By combining theoretical tenets of structuralism and constructivism, I seek to assess the incremental processes in which Europeanization delimits the context and systems of meanings in which applicant states' policies regarding Europe are directed and legitimated in two EU applicant states: Croatia and Slovenia. Based on in-depth interviews with over 35 public opinion makers in Croatia and Slovenia, I map how domestic debates surrounding Europeanization fall along a continuum between "sovereigntist" and "integrationist" perspectives. Moreover, I show, based on interviews and public opinion data, that while few public opinion makers reject EU accession outright, a significant amount of qualified or contingent opposition to the EU exists in both states. By comparing articulations of Euroskepticism in one state furthest along in fulfilling accession requirements (Slovenia) and one that has just begun the process (Croatia), I argue that as applicant states progress through the process of Europeanization debates about European integration shift from the realm of discourse and identity to more interest- or policy-based concerns, gradually emulating the forms of political representation and patterns of competition and political alignments found in current EU member states.


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